Nichole Culverwell has two children aged 12 and 14 at Elizabeth College. She is also the director of communications company Black Vanilla.
‘I am fortunate [that] my children are old enough to be self-sufficient when it comes to at-home learning,’ she said.
‘They are both at Elizabeth College and have been able to access all the online classes without any problems.
‘It’s definitely been an easier switch this time around and they know the drill so have got on with virtual learning with few problems.’
In terms of running a business from home, she said it certainly has got its challenges because the ‘always-on’ mentality of a business owner is heightened by the situation. ‘Switching off, trying not to worry about the team and generally thinking about business 24/7 is hard. It’s a challenge for any business leader but I do think it’s more acute when it’s your own business.
‘I feel very responsible for my team’s wellbeing but it’s easy to forget about my own.’
Having a desk chair and desktop computer helps to make it a ‘proper’ work environment at home and Mrs Culverwell said clearing away files and switching off the computer at the end of the day is a must.
‘Juggling home life and running a business is never easy at the best of times.
‘Taking regular breaks, getting exercise and fresh air and generally cutting yourself a bit of slack is critical. Setting boundaries is another discipline that business owners are notoriously bad at. Saying “no” and not allowing yourself to be available seven days a week feels even harder right now as the weekdays and weekends all merge.’
Everyone in the team has different circumstances with regard to children, schooling, partners, parents and home environments, much like all businesses.
To keep the wheels turning smoothly requires constant communication.
‘At the same time, communication overload isn’t helpful, in fact it overwhelms us all,’ she said.
‘So, it’s good to pick a dominant channel to focus on rather than expect people to respond to WhatsApp, Teams Chat, Zoom calls etc.’
She also reminds herself what Phil Eyre from Leaders taught her about resilience last year.
‘He explained it’s about being able to let go of expectations and plans so that you can rebound, look forward and press ahead.
‘Business owners have hopes, dreams and ambitions that need to be adjusted quickly so we can keep moving forward and not feel defeated.
‘Right now, that’s as much about adjusting your day-to-day ambitions to get things ticked off the to-do list as it is about being realistic about the bigger picture.’